For my next interview, I sat down with the multi-talented Jessica Kealy, to talk about her writing, dancing and her debut novel ‘The Adventures Behind Cherridor.’
For those of you not familiar with Jessica, she is a fiction writer and professional dancer. She has danced in Cyprus, all over the UK and even in front of the Dalai Llama. When she is not dancing or writing her next novel, Jessica enjoys sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book (don’t we all)
Thanks for dropping by, Jessica. Let’s jump straight in with the obligatory question I always like to ask a fellow scribe – Have you always known you wanted to be a writer/dancer?
Yes, I always knew I would love to do both, but never thought either would become a career.
Who, or what (or both) was your inspiration for becoming a writer?
Reading books was my inspiration I suppose. I’ve always loved reading and I think that naturally sparked my writing. I was a big Jaqueline Wilson fan as a child, I still have a collection of her books. The more I read the more I wanted to write my own stories.
‘The Adventures Behind Cherridor‘ is your debut novel. For anyone not familiar with your book, could tell us a little more about it please? Will there be a sequel?
It is about a young girl named Ellie who enters the realm of Cherridor and has to battle to save the life of the young Prince Blaize. Along the way she meets all sorts of creatures both good and bad….
I’m already writing the sequel. It is going to be a lot longer than the first as it fills in a lot of the back story as well as continuing on from where we finish the first book.
What is the most difficult part about being a writer?
For me I’d say that’s having the time to write – when I’m in the mood to write. There’s times when I’m so inspired to write something but I’m on a dance job, but then other times I have nothing to do so I get my notebook out, and I can’t think of single thing to write next. That’s the most frustrating thing. Because I don’t write my best if I’m forcing it.
What sparked the idea for your novel? Was there a single moment of inspiration you can identify, or was it a collection of ideas that evolved over time?
An easy one to answer. When I was 16 I had a job in a factory, boxing up foam blocks and behind my work station was this old wooden red door which was the fire exit. One hot afternoon they propped this wooden door open and I remember thinking how beautiful the view outside was. You’d expect concrete pavement or buildings and noise from the factory, but instead there was trees, grass, flowers and you could hear the birds chirping away. It was so out of place from the atmosphere of my work I thought I have to write a story using this and that bright red door became the basis of The Adventures Behind Cherridor.
Did you plan your novel meticulously, or do you explore your own story as you write?
I don’t plan my stories. I like to see where they take me. I started The Adventures Behind Cherridor and just let my mind wander. As I got into the middle of it I began making some plans of where id like it to go just so I could link things back in. But it was always open for change
Do you have a set routine for your writing?
I always have a new notebook which is dedicated to that one story, and I write what comes out in that. Then I start typing it up onto my laptop and sometimes this is where I edit things or move stuff around. It sounds like extra work rather than just typing it up but I’m a writer – I like to write.
Do you have a favourite author?
Jaqueline Wilson will always be one from my childhood. As an adult I can’t say I have one particular favourite. I read a lot, and I read a lot of different genres (my bookshelves are full) so I’d hate to pick just one.
How long did it take you to write The Adventure Behind Cherridor?
I started it when I was sixteen and finished it when I was twenty four. But, I didn’t touch it for a good few years when my dance career first started. The sequel won’t take nearly as long, I’m already halfway and I started it last July.
What is the title for your next book?
Return to Cherridor
Electronic or paper? Which do you prefer?
I prefer paper, always. For reading and writing.
What books do you like to read yourself?
All sorts! I’ve read classics like Black Beauty and Jane Eyre. I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (big fan!), the Fifty Shades Trilogy, The Hunger Games, Twilight etc. I love a good Thriller like The Girl On The Train and The Couple Next Door. I’m just in the middle of Kate O’Hearn’s Pegasus books – mythology is something I’m really into and considering branching into next after my Cherridor sequel.
What’s next for you? Will you be returning to Cherridor, or are you headed somewhere else?
As I mentioned I’m writing the sequel to The Adventures Behind Cherridor. Depending where that takes me, I may move on to another novel about something completely different. or there could even be a third book making Cherridor a Trilogy.
What do you love most about being an author?
Creating a story that people can escape into. It’s the one thing I’ve always loved about reading and one of the reasons I wanted to write.
What do you like least about being an author?
The hand ache I get when I can’t write the ideas down quick enough from my brain!
As an author, I am sure your mind is always whirring away with ideas – what do you like to do when/if you have an speare time?
I enjoy binge watching series on Netflix. I love getting on the sofa, or in bed with some chocolate and binging a new series.
What was it like to dance in front of the Dalai Llama?
It was incredible. I was only fifteen at the time but it was definitely an honour. We did a dance about the Earth and the Sun, and then at the end he came on stage to speak to the audience. So he was like a hands reach away from me. I’ve always been interested in Buddhism so I was in awe.
Final question for now, Jessica – if you were fleeing to a desert island to escape an apocalypse, which three books would you take with you and why?
Ooh! Tough question! Okay, so I have this old battered Mills & Boons romance novel that I must’ve read a million times but it always cheers me up when I’m feeling lonely, so I guess that would definitely have to come (Sounds corny I know but who doesn’t love a romance). The second book I’d take would be Jane Eyre because it’s a classic and at least one classic has to survive an apocalypse. Thirdly, I’d take a copy of my own book (sounds vain I know) but if I didn’t survive on the island and years later my three books were dug up by a new civilisation, then my book would start literature off again in a new world alongside Charlotte Bronte!
Thanks for chatting Jessica, it was a real pleasure.
If you enjoyed the interview and would like to find out more about Jesscia and her work, you can click on the cover art shown above to find out more about the The Adventures Behind Cherridor, check out her youtube trailer, or head on over to her publisher’s website right now.
And thanks to you for sparing your valuable time. Please check back again soon for further interviews and more book reviews.